Think “organic” is a bunch of BS? Think again, for your kids’ sake.
I talk to young parents all the time about food choices. As co-founder of a new organic food company, I love to visit the many natural and gourmet food stores in my area.
I also conduct a lot of product demonstrations at these stores, where customers can sample our first product, an organic extra virgin olive oil. I meet many people who care deeply about choosing organic. But most folks - even those shopping in health food stores - don’t fully understand the impact of non-organic food on our bodies and the environment.
For most of us, we just don’t have the time to learn what foods are good for us, what foods aren’t so good, and what terms like organic, gluten-free, raw or biodynamic really mean for their bodies. Especially young parents, who already have so much “on their plates.”
However, these parents are the very ones who most need to know about these issues. Kids are still growing, still so small, and need the best start their diet can give them in life. To all the parents out there reading this, this is my present to you. I’ve done the research, condensed it down to the 5 short points below and am here to tell you quickly what “organic” really means for your (and your kid’s) body, the environment and future generations.
1. Keep the chemicals out. What most people don’t know about the food their kids eat is that chemicals sprayed on “conventional” food get into their bodies. 95% of Americans have pesticides in their blood at any given time. These levels are twice as high in children than they are in adults. Even if you wash or peel fresh fruits and vegetables before your kids eat them, chemicals still make their way in. In addition, if they’re eating processed foods, you don’t even have the chance to wash the ingredients before they’re baked in.
There’s good news though! Changing a child’s diet to organic foods can completely, or almost completely, eliminate these chemicals from his body. Even five days on a completely organic diet can reduce these chemicals to undetectable levels. If going 100% organic sounds like too big a step, don’t fear - any little bit helps.
2. A cleaner body means a healthier body. Does it matter whether we keep these chemicals out of our bodies? It’s hard to know for sure.
Skeptics say there’s not much evidence that pesticides hurt our bodies when we ingest the low amounts found in our food. Are they right?
Yes and no. We don’t have much evidence low-level pesticide exposure causes harm. Harm from this sort of exposure won’t typically show up immediately, and when damage takes a long time to show up, it’s often tough to determine what caused it.
But it’s clear that pesticide exposure at higher levels does damage. We’ve found a strong connection between pesticide exposure in pregnant women and lower IQs in their children; pesticide exposure in children themselves and a greater risk of ADHD; and pesticide exposure and both cancer and Parkinson’s disease in humans of all ages.
We don’t know yet whether these sorts of effects, or others, can result from lower levels of exposure but these studies raise big red flags. In the meantime, by eating food coated with pesticides, we’re all conducting a sort of long-term experiment on our own bodies, and we’ll have the answers eventually. Do you want this experiment carried out on your body? Your kid’s body?
3. Help others. While we’re at it, let’s not forget that the high-level exposure studies were conducted on real people. Farm workers, for example, get sick from pesticides, and so do their kids. These farm workers don’t have to spray pesticides, and their kids don’t have to grow up near spraying sites. We can grow food (organically) without them. If you choose organic, you won’t change the whole world right away, but that’s one less fruit or vegetable that someone sprays with chemicals. These workers, and their children, will be grateful.
4. Help feed future generations. Our bodies aren’t the only things affected by how we choose to eat. One inch of topsoil takes 500 years to form naturally. And we can’t grow food - and thus can’t eat - without topsoil. But with modern farming (i.e., non-organic farming), we strip away an inch of our remaining topsoil every 28 years. In many parts of the country, we’re down to a small fraction of the topsoil that existed before we started farming the land. Some scientists estimate that unless we change our ways we may run out of topsoil as soon as 60 years from now.
We don’t want that! Organic farming actually replaces topsoil faster than it can erode it, thus reversing this process. This may not be imperative for your generation, or maybe even your kids’ generation but choosing organic and preserving our topsoil may make things much better for your grandkids, and their kids.
5. Cut our carbon footprint. Organic farming requires significantly less fossil fuel than industrial farming.
Twenty percent of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions come from our food system. Almost half of that comes from its use of fossil-fuel fertilizers. These chemicals require enormous amounts of fossil fuel energy to make and actually consist of fossil fuels themselves. Because organic farming doesn’t use fossil fuel fertilizers, it keeps an enormous amount of greenhouse gas from ever entering our environment. That means an immediate 40% reduction in greenhouse gas from our entire food system, and a nearly 10% reduction in all U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, just by going organic.
Convinced? Keep an eye out for organic foods next time you’re out shopping. Instead of just seeing a plain looking piece of fruit, you can see healthier kids and a cleaner environment. Your kids, and their own kids, will thank you.